Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has pledged a $1 million contribution towards the efforts of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to help Rohingya Muslims stranded in boats off the coast of Thailand following a Turkish naval rescue operation to assist the migrants.
Cavusoglu spoke about the donation during the MIKTA (Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey, and Australia) foreign ministers meeting in South Korea. He also urged the improvement of the poor living conditions of Rohingya Muslims from the Arakan region in Myanmar.
Rohingya Muslims have been discriminated against by the government of Myanmar for decades.
“The government and to a large extent Myanmar society perceive the Rohingya a product of recent migration from a kin-state, Bangladesh. They are consistently referred to as ‘illegal immigrants from Bangladesh,’” according to Chris Lewa, the coordinator of the non-profit Arakan Project.
Rohingya Muslims have been attacked by Buddhist mobs in recent years and more than 100,000 men, women, and children have been subjected to forced migration according to the Project.
Cavusoglu said that thousands of Rohingya Muslims are currently stuck in boats in the Andaman Sea and that this is a human tragedy.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also said that he spoke with Malaysian and Indonesian leaders and urged them to rescue Rohingya Muslims stranded at sea by ship.
“Our heart reaches all the world and does not recognise any limits. We thrust out our hand to the offended and aggrieved wherever they live in the world,” he added.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had previously announced that a Turkish military ship had been sent to help rescue Rohingya Muslims stuck in boats at sea off the coast of Thailand.
Davutoglu said, when speaking to Turkish youth representatives during the Commemoration of May 19 Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day, that “I have ordered the rescue of these long-suffering people from Myanmar including young or old people, women or men who have sailed towards hopelessness. We are trying to do our best to help these people with military ships of the Turkish Armed Forces coordinating with the International Organization for Migration [IOM].”
Davutoglu stated that he is closely following the situation of the migrants.
More than 1,500 Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar and migrants from Bangladesh landed in Indonesia’s Aceh province in recent days after people smugglers abandoned them in the sea.
Hundreds of Rohingya and Bangladeshi boat people were rescued by fishermen off the province on Wednesday, according to Indonesian search and rescue officials.
“The conditions at home — and lack of job opportunities — have sparked one of the biggest exoduses of boat people since the Vietnam War,” the Associated Press previously reported.